AP

Dems Vow To Enforce Subpoenas As Trump Resistance Grows

Apr 30, 2019, 12:54 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:10 pm
House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff speaks at a press conference discussing the redacted Mueller report on April 18, 2019 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are steeling for a no-holds-barred fight with President Donald Trump as the White House ignores subpoenas, denies access to witnesses and otherwise stonewalls congressional oversight in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In the latest case, Trump, his family and the Trump Organization have filed a lawsuit against Deutsche Bank and Capital One attempting to thwart congressional subpoenas into his financial and business dealings, asserting the requests are out of bounds.

That comes as Trump’s Treasury Secretary is declining to produce the president’s tax returns, Attorney General William Barr is threatening to back out of his agreement to appear this week before the Judiciary Committee and former White House Counsel Don McGahn and other officials are being told not to testify before Congress.

The standoff pits the legislative and executive branches in a constitutional showdown not seen since the Watergate era. Neither side is expected to back down. Trump says since Mueller finished his report of Russian interference into the election, there’s no further need to investigate. And while Democrats say it’s their duty to conduct oversight and are adamant that they will win in the end, they are also confronting the limits of their own enforcement powers.

“He’s prepared to fight us tooth and nail. And we’re prepared to fight him back,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Ca., the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee. “He obviously has something to hide.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging the committee chairmen to push forward with their oversight agendas, shelving for now calls from the left flank to launch impeachment hearings against Trump.

Congress has a range of tools available to try to force compliance from the White House, either through civil lawsuits compelling administration officials to testify or produce documents, or by holding others in contempt of Congress with fines or even, in rare cases, jail time.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Erik Prince, the founder of the security firm Blackwater, alleging he lied to the committee in 2017.

Schiff said Tuesday there is strong evidence that Prince, a prominent supporter of Trump, “willingly misled” the intelligence committee as it probed connections between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

“The evidence is so weighty that the Justice Department needs to consider this,” Schiff said.

Congress is buckling in for several actions in the aftermath of Mueller’s report, which did not find that Trump or his campaign knowingly conspired with Russia in the 2016 election. But the report pointedly did not clear the president of obstruction of justice and, in fact, recounted 10 instances where Trump tried to interfere with the investigation.

For lawmakers, their ability to conduct oversight of the White House is a core responsibility that extends beyond investigating the president into agency actions that can touch the lives of Americans.

“If the executive branch can deny the legislative branch the ability to bring witnesses to testify under oath and for the production of documents, the executive branch will have essentially eliminated the oversight function of Congress,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Yet while Democrats have vowed to go to court, those proceedings could last years, possibly past Trump’s tenure. And if they chose to hold officials in criminal contempt, which would take a vote of the full House, it would be referred to Department of Justice officials unlikely to side with the Democrats.

Some Democrats have thrown out other options: daily fines for not showing up, for example, or cutting appropriations for an official’s agency. But those ideas might not be politically popular.

There’s also an option that would be even more contentious and hasn’t been used in decades — trial and even imprisonment by Congress. Called “inherent contempt,” this process was often used in the country’s early years but hasn’t been employed in almost a century. While Democrats have vowed to use all of the available legal tools, they have shown no interest in going that far.

Despite drawbacks, Democrats say they will have to fight on multiple fronts to get the witnesses and documents they need.

“If you let them get away with this, then what do you have?” said House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings on Monday. “If the president can get away with blocking any information and anybody from testifying before the Congress, what road are we going down?”

Schiff and Waters, whose committees subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and others in April over the president’s finances, said in a joint statement that Trump’s “unprecedented stonewalling will not work.”

Schiff said he wants to know whether Russians used laundered money for transactions with the Trump Organization. Trump’s businesses have benefited from Russian investment over the years.

Eric Trump, executive vice president of The Trump Organization, called Democrats “deranged” and the subpoenas a form of “presidential harassment.”

In the other incident stemming from Schiff’s committee, Prince testified to the panel that a meeting in the Seychelles islands with a Russian with ties to President Vladimir Putin was a chance encounter.

Mueller’s report said investigators couldn’t iron out the “conflicting accounts” about the meeting. Prince told Mueller’s investigators that he had briefed Bannon about it, but Bannon told them they never discussed it. Part of the problem is that text messages between them were missing.

___

Associated Press reporter Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

AP

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands in lower Manhattan on June 27, 2022 in New York City. The...
ALEX VEIGA and STAN CHOE, AP Business Writers

From stocks to crypto, a punishing six months for investors

Americans with stock portfolios or retirement investment plans would likely prefer to forget the last six months.
21 hours ago
FILE PHOTO...
Associated Press

Woman fatally shot while pushing stroller on Upper East Side

Police say a 20-year-old woman was fatally shot while she pushed her infant daughter in a stroller on the Upper East Side in New York.
21 hours ago
(Yellowstone National Park/Twitter)...
Associated Press

2nd visitor in 3 days gored by Yellowstone park bison

For the second time in three days, a visitor to Yellowstone National Park has been gored by a bison.
21 hours ago
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Kaitlin Marie Armstrong. Police were...
KEN MILLER, Associated Press

Texas woman accused in cyclist death arrested in Costa Rica

The U.S. Marshals Service says a Texas woman suspected in the fatal shooting of professional cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson at an Austin home has been arrested in Costa Rica.
21 hours ago
Fencing surrounds the U.S. Supreme Court as it nears the end of its term, June 27, 2022 in Washingt...
JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press

Supreme Court: Biden properly ended Trump-era asylum policy

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Biden administration properly ended a Trump-era policy forcing some U.S. asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico.
21 hours ago
FILE: The U.S. Supreme Court is shown on April 25, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsc...
MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

Supreme Court limits EPA in curbing power plant emissions

In blow to climate-change fight, Supreme Court limits EPA's regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Dems Vow To Enforce Subpoenas As Trump Resistance Grows